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dc.contributor.advisorMacintyre, Clement Jamesen
dc.contributor.advisorPritchard, Garethen
dc.contributor.authorPrescott, William Jasperen
dc.description.abstractHaving been unexpectedly and comprehensively defeated at the 1945 general election, the Conservative Party returned to office just six years later. While the Tories languished in the wilderness, Labour enacted a series of sweeping changes, nationalising large swathes of the economy, establishing a National Health Service and implementing many of Beveridge’s social insurance recommendations. When the Tories returned to office, they pledged to leave most of their predecessors’ changes intact, including many of those which they had vehemently opposed in Opposition. This has led some historians and some Conservatives themselves variously to celebrate the advent of ‘new Conservatism’, lament Conservatism’s descent into watered-down socialism, or conclude there was not really much change at all, with some further claiming that the 1950s was characterised by a cross-party ’consensus’. This thesis explores whether there really was a shift in the Conservatives’ attitude to the role of the state. On the basis of extensive archival research it examines Conservative policy development in three major areas: nationalisation, the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) and social insurance. Using these policy areas, this thesis argues that while the Party made pragmatic accommodations to measures once they were enacted, there was no underlying shift in its broad conception of the role of state. Where the Conservatives supported measures before their introduction, they did so in part for electoral reasons, but also because they were reconcilable with the Conservative tradition as interpreted in the context of the time. Where measures went beyond what they were prepared to accept, the Conservatives opposed them, even where that opposition proved electorally damaging. The mere fact that the Conservatives subsequently resigned themselves to accept measures to which they were previously hostile should not in itself be read as a shift in, nor a deviation from, pre-war Conservatism. The Party had a long history of working with changes created by rivals where it was felt those changes were irreversible. Minor exceptions aside, major alterations to the post-war settlement were rejected mostly on the pragmatic grounds that doing so was both impractical and would hinder the Conservatives’ chances of blocking further, more radical, change. This thesis concludes that, in an era of apparent popular demand for increased state intervention, most of the party could tolerate Labour’s changes, even if private doubts remained, as the alternative appeared even worse.en
dc.subjectConservative Party (UK); conservatism; welfare state; nationalisationen
dc.titleBritish Conservatism, 1945-1951: adapting to the age of collectivism.en
dc.contributor.schoolSchool of Humanitiesen
dc.provenanceThis electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
dc.description.dissertationThesis (M.Phil.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2015en
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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